Miami MLS stadium
|Owner||Miami MLS team|
|Operator||Miami MLS team|
|Miami MLS team (MLS)|
The Miami MLS stadium is a proposed 25,000 seat soccer-specific stadium to be built in Miami, Florida for the yet-to-be-named Major League Soccer expansion franchise in Miami. While the location of the stadium is yet to be finalized, the team's ownership group led by David Beckham has expressed a desire to build on the Miami waterfront, other locations elsewhere in Miami have been offered as fallbacks. Shortly after the team was announced in March 2014, the group presented a plan to build a 25,000-seat stadium at PortMiami, but opposition from port businesses led to the May 2014 announcement of a second location, on a reclaimed land at Museum Park, with a reduced capacity of 20,000, but that site was also rejected by the city of Miami. The team has announced its intent to build the stadium with mostly private funds. In December 2015, a private site was located, along with a commitment to purchase adjacent land owned by Miami-Dade Sewer, that would not seek public funds or tax breaks.
Major League Soccer has stated that a league approval of the Miami's expansion bid was conditional on the team securing a downtown stadium site.
Proposed PortMiami plan
On March 25, 2014, Beckham announced plans to build a 25,000-seat stadium at PortMiami, adjacent to American Airlines Arena in the Downtown area of the city. Under the proposal, the stadium would have been located at the southwest corner of Dodge Island and be accessible by a pedestrian bridge from Biscayne Boulevard and the Miami Heat's American Airlines Arena.
On April 8, 2014, Miami-Dade commissioners refused to let PortMiami relocate a fuel-spill facility that would have needed to move in order to accommodate the stadium and entertainment complex. The stadium plan called for a commercial complex where the facility is located. Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, who had previously proposed developing on the same site, formed the Miami Seaport Alliance (MSA), a coalition of companies and unions based in the port, and led the opposition to the stadium plan. Political strategist Joe Slade White created an advertising campaign for MSA, which later won a national award for best public affairs advertising, claiming that a stadium would worsen traffic problems and interfere with the port's plans to expand and handle increased cargo. Beckham's real estate adviser argued that Royal Caribbean opposed the stadium plan because it paid below-market rates on its lease at the port.
Facing political pressure, Beckham's group announced that the PortMiami site had become "Plan B", and Miami-Dade County commissioners voted 11-1 against building the stadium at PortMiami on May 20, 2014.
On February 3, 2015, in a move that was described as symbolic, county commissioners voted unanimously to recommend FIU Stadium as a temporary home for the expansion team. Commissioner Juan C. Zapata, who sponsored the item, said "I think we did [Beckham] a big disservice. I know that when I've met with him, I have apologized, because I think we could have treated him better."
Proposed Museum Park plan
On May 5, 2014, with the PortMiami proposal facing fierce opposition, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Giménez proposed an alternate location on the waterfront, by filling a boat slip between American Airlines Arena and Museum Park. Giménez wrote in a letter to Beckham's real estate adviser that "Downtown Miami would greatly benefit" from a waterfront park that included the stadium and pedestrian walkways. The land, owned by the city of Miami, would have had to be sold or conveyed to the county, and Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado said filling the slip "would be a monumental task." Giménez and Regaldo discussed filling the slip in December 2013, but said the land was not being considered for a soccer stadium.
Following a meeting with Mayors Regalado and Gimenez, Beckham's group announced on May 19, 2014 that the boat slip location had become "Plan A". The site required approval from the commissioners of the city and county, who both owned parts of the land needed for the stadium, and the city charter required a public vote. According to plans presented by Beckham's group on May 22, 2014, the 20,000-seat stadium would take up 4.2 acres of the 19-acre park, while adding 8.5 acres by filling the deep-water basin.
The Miami Marlins had considered the boat slip location for its new stadium, but rejected the plan, as it would have cost millions of dollars to pump out water and transport rocks from elsewhere to fill the slip.
Critics warned the stadium would put a strain on area roads and pipes and others criticized using a public parkland for a stadium, and residents of nearby condominiums expressed concerns that the stadium may obstruct the ocean view.
After the city reported that the two sides were "too far apart" in negotiations over rent, Mayor Regalado and City Manager Daniel Alfonso turned down the proposal on June 10, 2014 and the proposal was rejected.
Proposed Little Havana plan
Although MLS president Mark Abbott said in June 2014 that the league was not interested in building in Little Havana next to Marlins Park (although the initial plans included a soccer stadium to be built alongside it, a plan supported by the league in 2008).
In February 2015, Miami-Dade County commissioner Xavier Suárez suggested two previously proposed sites – next to Marlins Park and on the Miami River near Miami International Airport. Suárez told the Miami New Times that he had already discussed the latter location with Beckham's advisor and the developer who owns the land, previously a Bertram Yacht boatyard. Suárez said both locations fit a broad interpretation of the league's insistence on a "downtown" location and the Marlins Park location's "taint" had faded.
On March 4, 2015, Miami-Dade County commissioners passed a resolution calling on Mayor Gimenez to negotiate with Beckham's group over a county-owned parcel of land on the west side of Marlins Park.
On July 17, 2015, Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado announced a tentative deal to build the park on city-owned land next to Marlins Park, pending approval from city commissioners. However, in November 2015, Commissioner Francis Suarez said was taken off the city commission agenda for December 1, 2015, where approval was required to get the stadium on the March 2016 ballot. Suarez cited Beckham's group's inability to secure deals with private landowners.
Proposed Overtown plan
On December 4, 2015, Beckham's group announced it had secured a contract to purchase a privately owned block in Overtown at 650 NW 8th Street near Culmer station, Interstate 95 and Miami River. It also secured a letter of intent from Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez to negotiate the purchase of the block to the south, owned by the county. The Overtown site was the fourth proposed location announced by Beckham since the expansion team was awarded to Miami, but this was the first time the group dropped its attempt to avoid paying property taxes by having the city or county serve as the stadium's landlord. On December 5, the MLS governing board endorsed the location, and on March 24, 2016, it was reported[by whom?] that Beckham's group completed the purchase of the privately-owned land portion needed for the soccer stadium. However, as of February 2017, the ownership group had yet to acquire the 3 acres of county land required to begin construction.
Other proposed sites
When the team was announced in March 2014, Miami International Airport, Marlins Park and Florida International University were mentioned as alternative sites should downtown stadium plans fall through.
Cities in neighboring Broward County were asked in July 2014 to forward a list of possible locations for a stadium and the county previously offered a county-owned site next to the BB&T Center in Sunrise as a possible site. Before the team was announced, Palm Beach County Sports Commission contacted Beckham's group and proposed FAU Stadium for the team.
The ownership group released a statement saying that a downtown Miami site was still preferred, but added, "there are other cities that would welcome an MLS club owned by [Beckham] and his partners."
In May 2015, University of Miami President Donna Shalala met with Beckham and his group to discuss a possible joint stadium for the MLS team and the Miami Hurricanes football team. Shalala said Sun Life Stadium, the existing home stadium with a capacity of over 65,000, was too big for the Hurricanes, but at the same time their target size of around 44,000 seats was too big for MLS.
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